Category Archives: News

Crime drama started on Harbor Blvd

Three of the owners of B&R Head & Block Repair: Bill Kutsch, Dieter Kutsch Sr., Billy Kutsch (News-Ledger photo)


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

A regional crime drama that included a huge manhunt and the six-hour closure of a major local freeway got its start when some employees of a West Sacramento repair shop arrived at work just before 6 a.m. on Friday.

B & R Head & Block Repair is a “family business,” reported Dieter Kutsch, a member of the family that runs it. The shop services big engine parts for a wide area around West Sacramento, and it’s located on an industrial stretch of Harbor Boulevard north of the freeway, where there isn’t a lot going on outside daylight hours.

Kutsch’s son, Dieter Kutsch, Jr., opened the door that morning for two employees, Keith and Robert.

[adrotate group=”7″]   “He turned the alarm system off for the guys, and the other two went in, while he went to get coffee. They walked toward the back, hitting the lights. It was still dark inside.”

They made a turn and started heading back on the other side of the building.

“There were lights upstairs,” said Dieter Kutsch, Sr. “Robert yelled ‘what’s going on?’ At that time, the shooter opened the door and started shooting at Keith and Robert. He shot three rounds at first. The guys went down onto the ground. They weren’t hit.”

The suspect – later ID’d as 38-year old Jimmy Lee Graves of Dieppe Way, Sacramento – had a revolver with him. Kutsch’s employees were pinned down, but they had some cover from posts and engine parts inside the building.

The pair hurriedly talked to each other and agreed to make a break for it, one at a time. They did — and the gunman shot at them again.

“They ran out (of the building) and at that time, Robert called 911 and then he called me,” said Kutsch. “They also wanted to contact my son, so he wouldn’t go back into the building not knowing what was going on.”

Kutsch’s son didn’t get the message – and he returned to the building to enter it evidently just as the shooter went out a window elsewhere.

William Lee Graves: shot by deputies in Sacramento after allegedly starting a fire, refusing to surrender

Police arrived, not sure whether all the suspects were out of the building. They used tear gas to make sure it was clear.  They established a perimeter, but the shooter was gone.

Graves allegedly took a Remington rifle with a scope from the shop – but dropped it nearby.

“I had my gun there because I had been hunting the previous day,” said Kutsch.

Why the break-in?

“It was a random deal,” said Kutsch. “There was no money in the shop, all our business is through accounts.”

Then, at 6:39 a.m., police received a phone call from near a liquor store at Poplar Avenue and West Capitol: the caller reported that a man in a long coat, with a gun, had just carjacked a brown Ford Focus.

[adrotate group=”10″]   Police spotted the vehicle and pursued at high speed. The suspect bailed on foot on the 2900-block of West Capitol, and then carjacked a white Ford F-150 pickup.

“Officers confronted the suspect, ordering him to surrender, and were fired on by the suspect,” reported Sgt. Nathan Steele of the West Sacramento Police Department.

The pickup fled west, shooting again at an officer and ramming a patrol car on West Capitol, causing the officer driving it to lose control. Then the pickup got on I-80 westbound, losing control and hitting a center divider. Law enforcement personnel set up a perimeter around this Yolo Causeway site – and entirely shut down traffic on the causeway.

The freeway wasn’t reopened until after noon. The closure by then had caused major Sacramento-area traffic trouble. Before stopped traffic was allowed to pass, vehicles were inspected by officers to make sure the suspect wasn’t hiding inside.

At this point, there were several law enforcement agencies involved – including SWAT teams, K-9 teams and helicopters, said Steele. The manhunt eventually grew to involve 12 agencies.

Now there were two “active crime scenes” – but a call came in at about 10 a.m. that there had been another carjacking, near County Road 127 and River Road. Yolo sheriff’s deputies responded, learning that somebody in a suspected-stolen tractor had approached a male victim and struck him over the head. The victim’s vehicle – a 2008 Ford F-150 – was taken.

The victim was said, in some media reports, to have been a birdwatcher. He wasn’t seriously injured.

That victim’s pickup was later found abandoned near Lenwick and Morse Avenue in Sacramento, said Steele.

Investigators followed leads, checking on “numerous potential suspect locations.”

[adrotate group=”9″]   At about 6:55 p.m., the Sacramento sheriff’s department checked out one of those locations, an apartment at 1968 Ethan Way.

“While attempting to secure the scene in the 1900 block of Ethan Way a suspect fled from Sacramento County Deputies, barricaded himself and started a fire in the apartment,” reported Steele in a press release. “After a standoff in which the suspect was repeatedly ordered to surrender, the suspect was shot by Sacramento County deputies to allow for emergency personnel to extinguish the rapidly growing fire.”

Graves was killed.

Steele declined to discuss whether the suspect had a criminal history.

The Sacramento Bee reported that family members said the man had trouble holding a job, as well as drug problems, a failing marriage, and pending charges on a robbery.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Open house, sailboat rides

Sailing action at the Port of West Sacramento (courtesy of Lake Washington Sailing Club)

[adrotate group=”10″] NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE —

Too late for publication in this week’s News-Ledger: the Lake Washington Sailing Club will hold an open house, with free sailboat rides, from 10:30 to 3:30 tomorrow (Sat., April 28).

The club is based at the Port of West Sacramento. Look for the entrance on Industrial Boulevard just west of Harbor.

For more information on the club, click here.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Farmers Market returns May 17

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — April 25, 2012 —

The West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce has set a date for its popular market to return this year.

The market will once again be held on Thursday evenings beginning May 17 at 1271 West Capitol Avenue (behind Walgreens and almost across from city hall).

[adrotate group=”7″]     More details will follow on this seasonal market. The chamber can be reached at 371-7042.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Red Mustang: impersonating cop car?


On our ‘Police Log’ page, the News-Ledger reported yesterday an incident involving a woman who said she was pulled over by someone who may have been impersonating a patrol car.

The 29-year old woman said that around 12:20 a.m. on Sunday morning, a red Mustang with lights and a possible siren tried to pull her over near Marshall Road and Golden Gate Drive. The driver of the Mustang pulled out from behind her and drove away — perhaps realizing she had other people in the car with her.

Police judged her account as being one of “impersonating a police officer” and “false imprisonment.”

[adrotate group=”10″]   Today, the West Sacramento Police Department said it was looking for a suspect in the case. Sergeant Nathan Steele said the suspect vehicle may be a red, mid-2000s Ford Mustang “with a red and blue flashing light and siren.”  He said the incident occurred in the area of Promenade and Southport Parkway.

“The police department is requesting the public’s assistance with anyone having information in regards to this vehicle,” added Steele in a press release. “We would also like to remind the public that if they are stopped by a vehicle and you are uncertain it is a police officer you may slowly proceed to a well lit and public location while calling police dispatch.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police dispatch, (916) 375-6474.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

‘POLICE LOG’ from the News-Ledger

NEWS-LEDGER — APRIL 18, 2012 —

  The ‘Police Log’ appears weekly in the print edition of the West Sacramento News-Ledger.  See the special offer at bottom if you’d like to subscribe & see it every week.

Information for this ‘Police Log’ has come directly from original police reports and documents. The information includes citizen complaints and other statements that have not substantiated or proven by an investigation or a courtroom.

April 12, 10:13 a.m.
A worker on site in the “Honda Hills” area near South River Road and Jefferson – a popular area for illegal off-road riding – said that a red 4X4 entered the work site through an open gate after being told not to go in. The driver sped past the work crew, but is “now stuck in the mud.” The 4X4 would need assistance getting out.

April 12, 2:15 p.m.
A man said someone pointed a red laser pointer at him while he was driving, and he wanted to file a report.

April 12, 2:36 p.m.
A female suspect stole a purse from the office area of a Jefferson Boulevard clinic she had just visited.

April 12, 2:50 p.m.
A man was reported to be hiding in the bushes near a Coke Street office, “holding women’s clothing” and “hiding from vehicles.”

[adrotate group=”10″] April 12, 3:25 p.m.
A citizen reported seeing a juvenile hit a neighbor’s back window with a baseball bat, in an incident in Southport. The witness followed the juvenile to Bridgeway Island Elementary School, where an assistant principal said the youth used to attend school there and was in the office waiting for police.

April 13, 3:05 a.m.
A caller told a dispatcher that he had blacked out while driving, and didn’t remember what happened, but he hit a pole with his car. The incident occurred outside a bar.

April 13, 4:09 a.m.
A Southport woman said she “wanted to report her husband recording her conversations without her knowledge.”

April 13, 6:43 a.m.
On Meadow Road, a resident reported that someone hit a home’s security cameras, lights, window, and a parked Ford El Camino with a baseball bat.

April 13, 8:55 a.m.
A citizen reported that a school bus was driving recklessly near Stone and Jefferson. The driver didn’t stop at railroad tracks and was speeding at around 50 miles per hour.

April 13, 10:50 a.m.
A woman in Southport “wants to report that a man she met at Sac State won’t stop texting and calling her. (The man) also went to (her) old high school in Folsom and asked to see pictures of (her) in old yearbooks.”

April 13, 11:30 a.m.
Somebody broke windows and spraypainted a building at the Stole Lock Bridge office.

April 13, 12:57 p.m.
A Clarendon Street school campus asked for a school resource officer to respond regarding a “possible sexual-related incident that occurred on campus.”

April 13, 1:39 p.m.
A Canna Way man said someone stole two phones and a GPS unit from a vehicle during the night, and he believed he found the thief advertising them for sale on Craigslist (an Internet classified ad site). He asked police to meet with the seller.

April 13, 2:07 p.m.
A police “civil standby” was requested for a child custody exchanged scheduled in a Southport shopping center parking lot. “Neither party is supposed to get out of the vehicle to talk to one another.”

April 13, 2:22 p.m.
A mobile home park resident on West Capitol Avenue “wants to report that someone moved her patio table sometime last night.”

April 13, 2:31 p.m.
A citizen on Goldeneye Court reported seeing two men in “hoodies” arrive in a white van and use a crow bar to get into a vacant home.

April 13, 4:33 p.m.
A witness said there were two male juveniles on the railroad bridge near Harbor Boulevard and Duluth. One had a rifle and was pointing it at cars passing under the bridge.

April 13, 7:15 p.m.
A resident of a B Street apartment said a female roommate had been “acting oddly all day.” She threatened to Taser him earlier, and a few minutes ago kicked his foot before she left on a bicycle.

[adrotate group=”7″] April 13, 7:30 p.m.
A 41-year old 6th Street man was detained by loss prevention workers at a Riverpoint Court store after he was seen trying to shoplift. The stolen items were a black “thermal hat” and a flashlight. He was released after an officer gave him a notice to appear in court.

April 14, 1:35 a.m.
A woman on 15th Street reported a strange night-time encounter. About 15 minutes earlier, she went out to her car. There was a man on a bike outside, and upon seeing her, he yelled “Let’s get the f___ out of here!” and pedaled off. He was alone.

April 14, 3:04 a.m.
Officers responded to a report that two shots had been fired on the 1600-block of Madrone Avenue. They found a single brass 9 mm shell casing in the middle of the street, but could not find any bullet holes or injured parties.

April 14, 6:35 a.m.
A mobilehome park resident on West Capitol reported that someone cut her rose bushes. She believed the suspect was a neighbor, and insisted on a visit from an officer.

April 14, 7:13 a.m.
A Hart Avenue home was found to have been burglarized during the night. The point of entry was a back door. It was unknown what had been taken.

April 14, 10:01 a.m.
A blue 2007 Hyundai Elantra was reported stolen from Maple Street.

April 14, 1:13 p.m.
A white 1995 Chevy S10 pickup was reported to have been stolen during the past hour or two from the Southport Town Center.

April 14, 4:59 p.m.
A man reportedly urinated on the sidewalk in front of a West Capitol restaurant, and was now lying down in front of its parking lot, in a urine-soaked jacket.

April 14, 7:34 p.m.
A man called after a child custody exchange on West Capitol, saying his ex “had left the residence with two of the juveniles, and left the other two, (age) nine and seven years, just standing outside by themselves.” He also wanted to pick up the two kids the woman still had.

April 14, 4:20 p.m.
A 42-year old Citrus Street man was cited and released for shoplifting at a Riverpoint Court store. After the arrest, he admitted having found a receipt in the parking lot several days earlier, then returning to pick the listed items off the store’s shelves and attempt to return them for cash using the receipt. The items were about $30 worth of detergent and household goods.

April 14, 9:29 p.m.
An unknown suspect broke the door of a restaurant on the 1300-block of Merkley Avenue, then took $135 from a register along with several bottles and cases of beer. No suspect was seen.

April 14, 5:59 a.m.
A 38-year old Somerset Drive man awoke to the sound of a breaking window. He found two windows in the residence had been broken, but did not determine that anything had been stolen.

[adrotate group=”9″] April 15, 1:12 a.m.
A witness on North Hobson Avenue said that about 10 minutes earlier, a white van pulled up nearby. A suspect got out and broke a window on a neighbor’s car, then got back into the passenger side of the van and the van left.

April 15, 4:34 a.m.
A woman on Canvasback Way reported hearing someone trying to open the door. She looked out the window and saw a man walking away.

April 15, 9:25 a.m.
Someone egged a car on Simon Terrace during the night.

April 15, 9:15 a.m.
An officer responded to the 1400-block of West Capitol Avenue “regarding a female dancing around in the lot without pants and with a plastic bag over her head.” The officer found a woman who “did have a bag on her head and was in the process of pulling her pants up.” The woman “could not answer most questions” or stay still, and had rapid speech and other signs of drug use. She was arrested for being unable to care for herself. The 33-year old transient admitted having used methamphetamine and alcohol.

April 15, 1:03 p.m.
A man called dispatchers, saying his soccer club had a permit to use a field at Bryte Park. But a group of about 15-20 males were “trying to take over the field.”

April 15, 1:13 p.m.
A “dine and dash” was reported at a Lake Road restaurant. The male suspect left without paying, going toward the freeway on foot.

April 15, 1:56 p.m.
A diner on the 800-block of Harbor reported there was a “customer asleep on a table.” The apparently-intoxicated man yelled at whoever was trying to wake him up.

April 15, 2 p.m.
In central West Sacramento, a woman complained of “harassing text messages” from her daughter.

April 15, 3:31 p.m.
A customer was “causing a problem over a losing lottery ticket” at a cigarette store on the 3000-block of West Capitol.

April 15, 3:37 p.m.
A supermarket on the 1600-block of West Capitol complained that two men were selling candy out front, allegedly to support a baseball or basketball program, and the pair “have been aggressive with customers” and refused to leave.

April 15, 5:25 p.m.
A female subject made off with over $1,000 worth of shoplifted “suitcases/shoes/clothing” from a Riverpoint Court store, fleeing in a Ford Taurus whose license plate was given to police.

April 15, 7:27 p.m.
A “subject was just stabbed in the neck” on 3rd Street.

April 15, 7:58 p.m.
A West Capitol Avenue business reported suspecting one of its drivers of stealing diesel fuel. The driver was using/purchasing more fuel than any other driver.

April 15, 10:30 p.m.
Somebody deposited a three-foot stone statue at Stonegate Drive and Lake Washington Boulevard. It was booked by police as “found property.” Its owner was unknown.

April 15, 11:54 p.m.
A caller reported having just arrived home on Pecan Street, when someone ran out the back of the residence. Now, there were alarms going off in the warehouses behind the home – possibly set off by the fleeing burglar.

April 15, 11:58 p.m.
A Southport woman reported her son took the keys to her car, and was now sitting in the driveway threatening to leave following an argument.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

18 arrests in gang/drug operation


The office of Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced today the conclusion of an operation combating gangs and narcotics trafficking in the West Sacramento, Sacramento and Roseville areas.

[adrotate group=”7″]   Over 100 law enforcement officers participated through the Yolo County Narcotics Enforcement Team (YONET) — a coalition led by the state department of justice and which includes the West Sacramento Police Department and other Yolo-area agencies.

“The investigation resulted in 18 arrests, four guns, body armor, a stun gun, and drugs,” said a press release from Harris’s office. “Everyone arrested will be booked into Yolo County Jail.”

In West Sacramento, the operation was called “Operation Red Sash,” “because of the Northern Riders and Broderick Boys criminal street gang affiliation with the color red and Nortenos street gang,” the news release added. The operation “targeted mid-level to high-level members who were distributors of illegal narcotics.”

Arrests were made for felony charges related to narcotics trafficking, conspiracy to traffic, and participation in a street gang.

“Today’s operation will cripple these street gangs and their criminal enterprise network,” said Harris’s office.

No details were provided on the identification of those arrested.

The operation began in November, said the attorney general’s office.

[adrotate group=”4″]

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Firefighter response times slow down


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Firefighter response times got slower in 2011 – apparently a product of fire department budget cuts.

AL TERRELL, West Sacramento Fire Chief (courtesy of W.S.F.D.)

The West Sacramento Fire Department reports its average response time for emergencies went from four minutes and 20 seconds in 2009 to four minutes and 13 seconds in 2010, followed by a 30-second increase in 2011 to four minutes, 43 seconds.

Local firefighters were not busier with emergencies in 2011 – they had fewer calls for fires, emergency medical services and other emergencies in 2011 than in 2010.

The department was, however, smaller in 2011.

“It boils down to what is an acceptable risk for the community,” Fire Chief Al Terrell told the News-Ledger. “Basically, due to the state of the economy, we’ve had to deploy a flexible employment staffing model. When we don’t have everyone at work, we’ve had to take an engine out of service. We’ve always had five engines and a truck in service, and now (some of the time) we have four engines and a truck.”

[adrotate group=”10″]   Terrell said that this happens when enough personnel aren’t available – due to vacations, extended training, or other reasons. Normally, Fire Station 45 on Lake Washington Boulevard in Southport has two fire companies. But when that’s not possible, it drops to one company – and the department finds itself spread thinner.

“About 80 percent of the time or more, we’re fully staffed,” said Terrell.

How dangerous is it to have response times slow to four minutes, 43 seconds?

“At this stage, I’m not really concerned – when it gets into the five-minute range, I’d be more concerned,” said Terrell. He explained a bit about why that is, and how a city decides to deploy fire stations:

“Medically speaking, if the brain goes without oxygen for six minutes, your brain is dead, even if your body is still alive,” said Terrell. “So in the fire industry, fire stations are strategically located to be able to arrive anywhere in their district in six minutes or under. We’ve strategically located our fire stations so we should arrive anywhere in our area within six minutes. Getting there in less than five minutes is doing really well.”

West Sacramento now has five stations, including the Lake Washington Boulevard station that usually holds two companies.

Has anyone died or been seriously injured because of the slower response time average?

“To my knowledge, that hasn’t happened,” said the chief. “If I had my way, I’d prefer to always have five engines and a truck – 30 seconds can make a difference.”

Terrell said that when he arrived to take over the department about four years ago, it had 71 personnel. Now, it has 66, a decrease that includes four uniformed firefighters.

“There are less people to fill in the gaps, so we have to flexibly staff,” said Terrell.

The cuts to the fire department are part of city-wide budget cuts approved by the city council in response to the recession and city budget troubles.  Police and fire services were among the last departments to feel the weight of the city’s cuts.

[adrotate group=”7″]   The West Sacramento Fire Department reports it responded to 253 fires in 2011, down from 281 in 2009. It also responded to 4,905 emergency medical calls and 128 hazardous materials calls in 2011, in addition to 367 false alarms. In general, the department responded to more emergencies in 2010 than in either 2009 or 2011.

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  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012